How to Ace the Interview….Face-to-Face or Virtually

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It’s clear that the global pandemic that has consumed 2020 has also changed the way our professional world operates.  If you’re in an active job search or feel like you may be one of the next victims of a layoff or furlough at your work place, you need to ensure that you take the time to fully prepare for any interviews you are lucky enough to be invited to. Below are five quick tips to help you to be ready for the interview…and hopefully, the offer.

Step #1 – Take the time to prepare

Knowing who you are is one thing, being able to communicate that to another person is a whole different ballgame. Showing you can effectively market yourself during an interview is key in nailing the interview, and ultimately, the job offer. Have a checklist of the things you need to do prior to, during, and after the interview-documents needed, location of company, AND floor or office where the interview will be conducted, Wi-Fi capabilities and access to equipment if your interview will be virtual, and any questions you may have regarding the job and company. Practice talking about your strengths and weaknesses, how you’ve overcome obstacles on the job, and some of the major highlights of your career. Also know the parameters of what the offer could be, salary and benefits you need/want. It’s very rare that an offer happens during the interview, but sometimes it does, and you need to know your value before you hear their offer, or if they ask questions about what you want if they offer the job.

Step #2 – Know the job

Be able to give concrete details of how your skills, experience, training, etc. combine to make you the ideal candidate for the job, based on the qualifications and requirements in the job posting. Have job-specific questions ready for your interviewer, and also ensure that you’ve done your homework regarding the culture of the business, as well as the services or product being provided by the company (and to whom they’re being provided).

Step #3 – Have your Interview “Toolbox” filled and ready to go

Whether you are interviewing in person or remotely, there are things you need to have at your fingertips, so you can speak to your credentials. First and foremost, have a copy of your résumé with you and be able to validate the content, if questioned. Have a list of professional references who can speak on your behalf prepared to hand over, or to email, if requested. Be sure your professional and personal social media profiles are cleaned up and that any professional sites have the same career information as your résumé. If you are interviewing virtually, it would be easy of have a typed list of questions prepared, so you can discuss them when the time is right. You can also contact the company prior to your interview to ask if there are specific items you should bring to the interview if you are going on-site.

Step #4 – First impressions are everything

Dress appropriately for your interview regardless of where or how it takes place.  If you are on site, the customary handshake may be a no-go, so be sure you understand any social distancing or cultural practices that need to be followed during the entire interview process. Be on time! This is key for any interview! Do a test run to the location and allow for traffic snafus, trains, etc. If your interview Is being done virtually, make sure your computer or phone is in a quiet spot (no potential background noises or interruptions), and that you are able to access the program the interview will be facilitated through. Eye contact is good and can easily be a sign of confidence in a candidate. If you are interviewing at a restaurant, order a meal that is easy to eat, and keep in mind that following the restaurant’s current guidelines and policies will show that you can follow and respect rules.

Step #5 – Do what you need to do to put yourself at ease

Be sure your body and mind are prepared to help you appear calm and confident during your interview.  Eat breakfast, work out (please shower/groom after), do some breathing exercises, and anything else you can think of that will keep your nerves on the down-low.  Shaky hands, not making eye contact, and talking too quietly or not confidently are all things that could make the interviewer determine how you handle stressful situations.  Keep the conversation positive and on track. Listen intently and think before you answer questions. Be sure to thank the interviewer at the end and if it has gone well, even ask what the next steps in the hiring process will be. Projecting confidence is important!

This year has been one of new ways, new policies, and new working environments for today’s professional workforce.  However, the basics of a common interview haven’t really changed much at all. You need to be sure you are fully prepared for your interview and can show the interviewer exactly why YOU are the candidate they want to hire for the job.

10 Interview Questions You Should Be Prepared to Answer

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Wouldn’t it be awesome if you had all the interview questions your potential employer was going to ask you in your next job interview?

Well prepared and confident, you could then give the recruiter an element of surprise, wowing them with your wit, experience, and charm. The truth is, we already know what they are going to ask you. That’s because a vast majority of employers tend to ask very similar questions that follow an objective evaluation system.

While we don’t recommend giving a practiced response to each interview question (please don’t), spending some time getting comfortable with what you might be asked can set you up for success. That said, here are the ten interview questions you should be prepared to answer.

  1. Tell Us About Yourself

Often asked at the start of each interview, this question is commonly used as an icebreaker. How you answer it will make your first impression.

Don’t give your full employment or personal history. Instead, give a brief, concise description of who you are and your key qualifications, skills, and experience. Make sure to tailor your answers to the role you’re being interviewed for. For example, if you’re being interviewed for an accounting role, you could explain how you became a CPA without a bachelor’s degree. While it’s possible to become a qualified certified public accountant without a degree, it’s a challenging process with stringent experience requirements. Describing your accountancy journey can show your determination to succeed.

  1. Why Do You Want to Work for this Company?

When a recruiter asks this question, they not only want to know why you want to work for them, but also what you know about the company. Do your homework to find out as much information about the company as possible. When answering the question, frame your answer in a way that will portray your strengths and how passionate you are about the work they do.

  1. What Are Your Weaknesses?

Hiring managers ask this question to test whether you’re qualified for the job. They want to know whether you can cope with challenges and learn new tasks. The trick here is to structure your answers around positive aspects of your skills in a way that will seemingly turn weaknesses into strengths.

  1. What Is Your Greatest Strength?

Your greatest strength, in this context, is a skill that’s valuable to the company. On that note, don’t choose something unrelated to the job, like mastery in Solitaire (unless it’s a game tester role). Instead, pick a skill they need help with most. For example, if the recruiter is a realtor, you could point to impeccable negotiation skills as your greatest strength.

  1. Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?

This question aims to figure out if you’re able to set realistic goals. If you plan to work with this company, make sure you understand the organization’s hierarchical positions and the potential for career growth the company offers. Focus on your career goals, and ensure the answer you give aligns with the position you’re interviewing for.

  1. Why Did You Leave Your Previous Job? 

The essence of this question is to test your character (honesty, perseverance, etc.) Even if you left under challenging circumstances, do not say anything negative about your previous or current employer. Instead, focus on what you want to achieve in the future.

  1. How Do You Respond to Working Under Pressure?

The interviewer wants to know how you handle workplace stress. What do you do when things are not going according to plan? The trick here is to reveal your problem-solving skills. Give an example of a time when you were faced with a stressful situation and how you successfully managed it.

  1. What Is the Most Difficult Situation You Have Faced at Work?

Similar to the question about how you handle workplace stress, you will want to exemplify your impeccable problem-solving skills here.

  1. What is Your Greatest Accomplishment?

Consider this question an invitation to brag about what you have achieved in your career. Much like the question about your greatest strength, the answer to this question should align with what the employer needs. Focus on your recent career achievement and demonstrate how it can be of value to the company.

  1. What Are Your Salary Expectations?

This can be a tricky question to answer. You don’t want to underprice yourself or place yourself out of a job offer. Research the company well to know where they peg their employee salaries, then quote a figure that is commensurate with your skills.

Once you’ve mastered these interview questions and prepared yourself accordingly, you’ll be one step ahead of the competition.

Author Bio:  Bryce Welker is an active speaker, blogger, and tutor on accounting and finance. As the Founder of Crush the CPA Exam, he has helped thousands of candidates pass the CPA exam on their first attempt. 

 

The Executive Interview: Tips to Get You Through the Process and Win the Job

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Don’t freak out!  Even if you haven’t interviewed for a job in years, there are plenty of things you can do to show a potential employer that you are THE best candidate for the job.  While the application/hiring process has grown into a more technical event, the way employers interview executive-level candidates has not.  Here are a few tips to help you nail the interview and get to the next step – being offered the job!

Get Your Ducks in a Row…

  • The HR Manager scheduled the interview, so you know the timeframe you’re working with to be fully prepared to knock their socks off at the interview. Keyword: prepared.

What are Your Ducks…

  • Map out your trip to the company and know how long it will take you to get there. If it should take you 20 minutes, allow yourself at least 30. Don’t forget about construction, trains, etc.-if you show up late, the interview will be over before it even started.
  • Spend some time researching the company. Know its product, customers, culture, mission, and financials. Being able to speak the company’s language is key in letting the hiring manager know that you really want to be their newest team member. Check out their social media presence as well. If they found you on LinkedIn, then they probably have a company profile set up on the site as well. View it, know it.
  • Plan your attire before the day of the interview. Do you need a suit? Or will a tie and dress pants suffice? Leave the dangely jewelry and smelly perfume/cologne at home. You don’t want to set of an asthma attack in the interview room, or even worse make them to have to fumigate the place when you leave-that just would not sit well.
  • Practice makes perfect….or at least may help! Review your resume and be able to speak in detail when talking about your career history. Research some common interview questions and be prepared to answer THE big question, “Why should we hire you for this position?” Be prepared to share concrete examples of business you’ve won, sales goals achieved, obstacles that have challenged you, and even things you’ve failed at and how you overcame those failures (just not too many of these…). Do you even know what your selling points are? Bottom line – know your strengths and weaknesses and be able to speak candidly about both during the interview.
  • Have your own list of questions for the interview committee, because you know you will be asked if you have any. Try to stick with questions related directly to job/company information and steer clear of asking about salary levels or benefits…save those for after they give you the job offer.

Supporting Documentation to Have on Hand…

  • Your Resume: Have enough copies of your resume ready to pass out to the people interviewing you. It is very common to have 4-5+ people interviewing you at the same time for a high-level position.
  • References/Recommendations: Have copies of your reference page and any letters of recommendations you have received. You may not be asked for them, but if you are-you will be ready.
  • Presentations: In today’s tech-savvy world, it would not be unheard of to have candidates using some type of media presentation to market their skills and expertise. At your level, financial achievements may speak louder than words, so including charts, graphs, etc. would paint a clear picture of the impact you’ve made during your career.

The Big Day is Finally Here…

  • Arrive for your interview 10-15 minutes early. Give yourself a quick pep talk in the car, check your teeth for spare remnants of your last meal, dry the sweat from your palms (baby powder works), and head into your interview. As an executive, you are expected to be calm, cool, and collected in any situation.
  • Greet the receptionist with a smile and be personable. First impressions are still important.
  • Smile when you are introduced to each person on the interview committee and remember, a firm handshake shows confidence.
  • Keep your hands on your lap or folded on a table to avoid tapping or appearing jittery. Make eye contact with the person asking you each question and try to look at the entire interview committee a little as you are answering a person’s question.

Preparing for your interview, bringing the right supporting documentation, and showing that you are confident in your abilities while speaking to individual members of the interview committee will help you to show them that they have picked the most qualified and deserving candidate for the job – YOU.

What NOT To Say in the Interview

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There is an unspoken set of rules that goes on in the interview.

And you are expected to know them.

These rules come from the recruiter or hiring manager. They have things they want to hear and things they don’t want to hear. How do you know what they are and how do you prepare for them?

Candidates practice their interviewing skills vigorously. They read up on what to say, how to answer. Dress appropriately. Smile. Follow body language. Get in front of a mirror and practice. Be on time, but not too early.

They go over their lists of strengths and weaknesses, their accomplishments, their contributions to the last job, what they offer this new company.

But what about the things they should NOT say? Interviewers are weighing what you DON’T say just as much as what you do say.

Here are 7 key things you shouldn’t say in the interview.

1. Salary. “How much does this pay?” is one of the worst ways to start a conversation. Don’t talk about it right away. The longer you wait, the more leverage you have when negotiations start. They know you are anxious for clarity but they are also interested in what their ROI will be before they make an offer. Wait it out.

2. Company. Come prepared. Know what the company does! Know their mission, product, or service. What do they do? Who do they sell to? Who is their biggest competitor? What were their quarterly and year-end earnings last year? Act as though you are the company ambassador. The more you know about it, the more impressed they will be. Telling the interviewer you are “sort of familiar” with their company will put you in the NO pile.

3. Your old company. Do not bash your last company, manager, co-workers, or the way they did things. It might have ended badly, but the new company doesn’t need to hear about it. It makes you look bad and will let them know that you will bash them as well. It also makes you look difficult or whiny. Honestly, when I talk to a client and all they do is bash their old company, it does send up some red flags. I also assume that the client will be difficult to work with (past experience tells me they will). Work out your feelings before going to an interview and leave it behind.

4. I need this job. Don’t let your desperation show. They know you want the job. They know you (most likely) need the money. Keep your focus on what the company needs from you and how you are the right fit for the role. You want to lead with your strengths and experience. They don’t want just anyone for the job. They want the RIGHT person.

5. I want your job. When they ask you “where do you see yourself in 5 years” don’t tell them you want their job. You might think it sounds ambitious but it could come off as arrogant or that you plan on leaving soon. Plus, you may be talking to a sensitive or worried manager who doesn’t know how stable their job is. Telling them you want their job may automatically make them defensive or turned off. Instead, let them know that you hope to gain experience and knowledge from the role with a promotion following.

  1. This is a stepping stone. If you know this next role is only to benefit your career through additional experience so you can move on to the role after that, don’t tell the interviewer that. They don’t need to know that you only view their company as temporary. They want to hire someone committed to the company and the role.

    7. Questions. Have questions ready! Expectations? Culture? What is a typical day like? How do you measure success in this position? What type of advancement is there? What types of challenges should I expect? Who will I be working with? You’ve read my resume and spoken with me, do you think I am a good fit for the role? Even ask them about their role! Going to an interview without follow up questions will make you look unprepared.

Interview don’ts are just as important as interview do’s.  Good luck!

 

I Was The Perfect Fit! Why Wasn’t I Hired?

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How many times have you felt you were PERFECT for that role, but still didn’t get it? You went over the interview in your mind a hundred times, noted how easily the conversation flowed, how they interviewer would nod enthusiastically when you described a certain experience or skill. They seemed excited when they said they would get back to you soon.

Then you got the email that you weren’t chosen.

Safe to say, I think we’ve all been there.

I’m a firm believer in if you didn’t get the job, something better will come along. Through the years, some of our clients have come back to us to tell us about interviews they nailed and were sure they got the job. But didn’t.

However, there are various reasons companies may choose a different route:

They decided to hire internally. As unfair as it sounds, they may have already had a front runner in mind but posted it anyway to see if there is someone better.  Some companies HAVE to post externally due to contract constraints or affirmative action plans. Federal contractors or government agencies may have to post externally as well.

You were overqualified.  Perhaps they think you won’t do tasks you deem “beneath you”. While it’s unfair for them to assume what you will or won’t do, it is a common concern. They may also fear that you will be bored at the job—especially if you’ve been on an impressive career track. Or, that after a while, you will leave and they’ll be back to square one.

You were underqualified. Thinking you’d be great in a role and actually having the experience to master the role are two different things. Read the job description thoroughly and make sure you have the experience to apply for the role.

They already had another candidate in mind. It’s possible they already found their choice but they had to have a certain amount of candidates to interview to fill their candidate roster. It might be company policy that X number of people need to be interviewed before a choice can be made.

Your online presence wasn’t professional or up-to-date. Hiring managers check your social media profiles to learn more about you. Turn on your privacy settings if you have personal pictures or information on there. Also, if you haven’t updated your LinkedIn profile in a while (or years!), now is the time to do it. Lack of LI presence can hurt you as well. Get it up to date.

You shared too much. I’ve talked with recruiters who said the candidate told them their life story—the good, bad, and ugly—and in the process turned off the recruiter. Keep the conversation on the company, their pain points, how you can help them, and that’s it. Don’t talk about your jerk boss, your sick parent, or a personal health problem. They really don’t want to or need to hear it. Keep it professional.

You didn’t know enough about the company. Be very prepared when you go to the interview. Research the company, its mission, what they do, what they sell, or what they are about. Research the role, figure out their pain points. Have questions ready to interview the interviewer, questions like, “What should I know about the role I am seeking? Do you have any other insight?” Be both knowledgeable and inquisitive.

Whatever the answer, you may never know. You might have done everything right and still did not get the job. It might have been narrowed down to you and someone else, but they went with the other person because they had more strategy experience.

Either way, you gave it your all.

About two months ago, an operations exec said to me, “You know, after three rounds of interviews, they finally told me I wasn’t chosen. So, I reached out to a few old colleagues that resulted in a round of interviews with a company I was never interested in and an industry I wasn’t very familiar with. But they liked me and saw what my vision was for their company–and hired me. It has been the best job I’ve ever had.”

If you are struggling with job search, hang tight. The right job will come along.

How to Minimize Age Discrimination When Searching for an Executive Job

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Whether you want to believe it or not, age discrimination is real when it comes to job searches. This is one of the main reasons why the top resume writing services suggest people in their 40s and 50s visit them to update their resume to make it look more modern. While there’s nothing you can do about your age, you can take some steps to make yourself seem younger than you are. When you give hiring managers no reason to question your age, you’ll have a better shot at landing the job. Here are some ways you can take age discrimination out of the equation when searching for an executive job.

Connect With Hiring Managers

Human interaction is critical for developing relationships. Your executive resume writer can craft the perfect resume, but it won’t do any good if you can’t connect with the hiring manager on some level. As you get older, chances are the hiring manager will be younger than you. You can connect with them by speaking in modern terms and focusing on the future instead of the past, as some of your experience could be outdated.

Demonstrate Technical Knowledge

You don’t have to be the most technologically savvy person to land an executive job. However, you also can’t be severely limited with technical knowledge. Having an online presence with a LinkedIn profile and being active on other platforms shows you’re keeping up with the times. Employers don’t want to spend time training and teaching basic technical skills, so if you already have those then you’ll be a step ahead of the rest of the candidates your age.

Modernize Your Resume

When writing a professional resume today, you have to include things you didn’t many years ago. Your LinkedIn profile URL should always be included. Remove any list of references, address information and non-relevant skills, as those elements are outdated. Working with an executive resume writer can help you quickly modernize your resume, whether it’s formatting changes or substantive updates. These updates are important because you don’t want the formatting of your resume to show your age.

Professional Resume Services is widely regarded as one of the top resume writing services. We work with executives of all ages to ensure their resume is modern and set up to succeed as they begin their job search. Details are critical in every job search today, and we are here to help you cover all of your bases. Never hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions or need advice with your job search. 

What Do Executive Recruiters Look for in Candidates?

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If job-seeking executives only knew exactly what recruiters were looking for in candidates, their efforts would be made much easier. While you may not know a lot of the specific characteristics or qualities recruiters are looking for, you can get a general idea of what you need to include on your LinkedIn profile. A common misconception among executives is they should only write in a professional tone and talk about their achievements. This is only one aspect of what recruiters usually look for, though. Here are some of the other components that are always taken into consideration.

Positivity

Everything you put online either helps or hurts your c-level personal branding. Even if you left a previous employer on bad terms, don’t say anything negative about them on your LinkedIn profile or anywhere else. When you bad mouth them, a recruiter can’t help but think you’ll do the same to them if things don’t go your way, so it may not even be worth the risk of talking to you. Recruiters want to hire positive people to join their team, so always keep this in mind.

Social Proof Backing Up Your Claims

You should expect a recruiter to do a significant amount of research on you. Help them out by giving as much information as you think they will need on your LinkedIn profile. If you claim to be an expert at something, back it up with proof. Provide a link to your blog or website, if applicable, point to an article where you were recognized. Recruiters are always going to look for social proof to back up every claim you make, so be proactive and give it to them upfront.

Understanding Your Personality

An executive resume writer will always suggest inserting some of your personality into your resume or LinkedIn profile. Companies today are placing a higher emphasis on hiring people who fit their culture from a personality perspective. They want to hire people who will be there for the long haul, fit in with other employees, work as a team and provide unique value. You can easily demonstrate your personality without getting too personal, and an executive resume writer can help you if needed.

Professional Resume Services helps job candidates optimize their resumes and LinkedIn profiles so they are in a prime position to be recognized by recruiters. There are a lot of moving parts in a job search, so we are here to help make sure all of your bases are covered. The main thing is to be conscious of what you put online since it will always be taken into consideration by a recruiter. No matter where you’re at in your searching efforts, feel free to reach out to us for assistance every step of the way.

What to Know About Artificial Intelligence and Applicant Tracking Systems When Conducting an Executive Job Search

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Artificial intelligence (AI) is widely used in many different industries, and it’s only expected to continue to be utilized even more. It has particularly become more useful in making a recruiter’s job more efficient. Artificial intelligence can handle certain tedious tasks automatically when it comes to sorting through resumes, so a recruiter or hiring manager can actually focus on the human element of developing relationships. Combine this with Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), which helps recruiters narrow down resumes based on keywords and other criteria, and it’s easy to see what the future may hold for executive job seekers. Here’s what you need to know about these aspects when it comes to writing a professional resume.

Hiring Professionals Are Using AI And ATS More

The combination of AI and ATS can save hiring managers a significant amount of time during the recruitment process and even onboarding candidates. By the time a resume actually gets to a hiring manager’s desk for a final review, it has already gone through many virtual checks to ensure the proper criteria was met. The top resume writing services can help you determine which keywords are most appropriate for passing through these initial automated checks. If you don’t have the right amount of keywords or phrases, you could just be spinning your wheels during your job search.

AI May Even Be Involved In The Interview Room

Once the best executive resume writers help you pass through ATS and lead you to get a job interview, you still may have to go through some AI tests. Some companies even incorporate artificial intelligence during an interview to detect a candidate’s body language, eye movements, facial expressions and more. These are often characteristics that are difficult for humans to detect but are important to do so when determining the honesty and personality of a candidate.

Don’t Spend Too Much Time Optimizing For AI and ATS

While AI and ATS are critical components to consider in your job search, the top resume writing services will still tell you to not let them consume a lot of your time. The best executive resume writers can help you pass these tests on paper, but you still need to focus on the human element of a job search, including networking and developing relationships. Basically, you should keep AI and ATS in the back of your mind, but don’t let those aspects take up a significant portion of your job search.

Professional Resume Services is one of the top resume writing services for many reasons. We help job seekers be more rounded in their efforts to increase their chances of being recognized, landing an interview and ultimately getting into the job they desire. In a world where artificial intelligence and ATS are starting to take over, don’t let them consume you. Be sure to contact us for assistance at any stage of your job search.